Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight
1995, R, 92 min. Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson. Starring William Sadler, Billy Zane, Jada Pinket, Dick Miller, Brenda Bakke, CCH Pounder.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., Jan. 20, 1995
Yet another in the seemingly never-ending stream of films blurring the line between the small screen and the big one, Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight is pretty much what you would expect: a big-budget exploitation item loaded with lots of blood, gore, monsters, and gratuitous T&A. The plot holds horror-movie promise, with Sadler starring as a heroic war veteran Brayker, who tries to protect a sacred key filled with the blood of Jesus Christ from a virtual army of slimy monsters. The monsters are led by the Collector, a charismatic demon (played by Zane as a better-looking version of Freddy Krueger) who needs the ancient artifact to conquer the universe. When the Collector corners Brayker in an old, run-down hotel, our hero teams up with its quirky inhabitants to make a stand against the demons and save the world. Unfortunately, this nifty concept is nearly undone by some illogical scripting that can't seem to nail down its own internal logic, a concept essential to a film that requires a truckload of “disbelief suspension” from the audience. The performances are good enough to help fill the gaps, with the underrated Sadler great as usual, and the always spunky Pinket making a very capable horror heroine. It's also fun to see genre vet Dick Miller, star of everything from Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood to Joe Dante's Gremlins films, in something other than a one-scene walk-on. Director Dickerson, having proved himself as a superior cinematographer on Spike Lee's pictures, and a likable director with Juice and Surviving the Game, handles the monster attack and gore sequences like a pro, while stumbling around the time-fillers in between. Luckily, there are heads blowing up nearly every other scene, so, with the exception of a couple of goofy set-pieces (Miller's vision of a barful of silicone-stuffed beauties springs to mind, seeming more like an out-of-place beer commercial than anything else), fans of the TV show and the overall genre should find Demon Knight to be a passable time-waster until John Carpenter's and Clive Barker's new films are released. By the way, the absolutely rancid opening and closing bookends, which star the terribly unfunny Crypt Keeper, were not directed by Dickerson, and serve as the low point of this otherwise average monster rally. So don't feel bad if you miss the first five minutes or have to leave for the last five because, not only are they completely expendable, but it's nothing you can't see every week in the comfort of your own living room.